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Sunday, September 30, 2012

What I'm up to

I saw some amazing beaded art quilts on The Quilt Show yesterday and I suddenly knew what I had to do with the blue art quilt I've been working on.

This is where it is now. All the other pictures of it I have posted have shown it vertical, but I think I'm going to be working on it horizontal instead. If this was a class project for Stupendous Stitches at Craftsy, it would be time to start hand stitching on it and that is what I thought I was doing when I started it. But I've decided to fuse some appliques onto it instead, and then embroider and bead it.

So far I've only picked out some of the fabrics that I'll use and I've put fusible on the back of them.

They don't look like much at this point. I haven't cut any shapes out of them. Or even pulled them off the release paper, which is the next step. And frankly at this point I'm not even sure exactly what I'll be cutting out. Stay tuned. This might be fun to watch.

I haven't stopped working on the free motion quilt which is a class project for another Craftsy course, Beyond Basic Machine Quilting. I've done the next to the last feather plume today. That one actually is a leaf stem. You can sort of make out that it isn't the same shape as the round feathers if you look hard at the second photo. I didn't spread it out to take its picture this time around.

I need to watch the last section of the class on non-traditional feathers and then work the plume. I'm not sure I left enough room for it, but I'm going to try to get it in.

Meanwhile I'm also working my way through a class at Quilt University, also on-line, for Electric Quilt. I bought the program a while ago but have never done much with it. I am ready to start Lesson 3 or 4 and I already know more about the program than I did just doing the lessons that came with it.

I don't know if I'll actually use it to design quilts, because right now I seem to want to do things improvisationally. But there are things you just can't do that way.

No matter what, I am having fun.

Take care all.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Continuing the class project

I am continuing the class project for the class Beyond Machine Quilting. This counts as a UFO (unfinished object) because I cut the fabric before my husband died and didn't look at it for a couple of months. Also there is an important project waiting for my free motion quilting to get better so it can be finished. The class project should put me over the top.

I finished the ditching a couple of days ago. It went very well. I've learned how to use my walking foot no matter what thread is in the needle. It took quite a while to learn how to thread very fine threads in the machine, but I've got that down pat now and it no longer is a problem.

The next thing I needed to learn was how to mark a design on my fabric and sew it. It turned out that using my sewing machine to punch holes in a paper pattern did not work. I solved that problem the old fashioned way.  I used a push pin and poked the holes by hand.

I bought the "stuff" to put through the holds several months ago for my last hand quilting project. The "stuff" is called pounce powder. I bought the blue color. It came with an eraser shaped pad to put the powder through the holes.

It didn't work for my last hand quilting project with a commercial stencil made especially for that product, and it didn't work for this current project with my hand made stencil. The problems were different. With the commercial stencil I could not match up the patterns on the border I was going to hand quilt. With my home made stencil I could mark, but the powder would have disappeared before I could sew the pattern on the machine. I ended up using what I had marked as a "suggestion" of where to mark with an old fashioned silver pencil.

If I am going to be marking quilting designs, I need to come up with a better method.

This is my current practice square. The two really ugly round objects were just drawn by hand, but the sewing was about as ugly as a beginner's project can get.

There were two reasons. First, I am a total beginner at following a line in free motion. Second, it turns out that I hate colored thread on white fabric. What I want from the quilting is the texture. There will be times when colored thread will work, but that will be on a colored background. What I like is for the thread to match or to be one shade darker or one shade lighter. If you look at the round "flower" at the top, it is a beige thread on a white fabric. The sewing isn't wonderful, but I really like how the texture looks.

Here is a close up of the "flower." I have another one marked on another piece of white practice fabric, which is a good thing, but I do think that it won't be all that bad.

But I made some decisions that took me the better part of two days. No colored thread in this project even though that is what the class called for. And I might make three "flowers" or I might just make one.

What I really want to learn and practice is making feathers and stalks with leaves free motion, without marking. And frankly as you can tell from the background practice areas above, I seem to do free motion with no lines better than following a line. I know that learning how to follow a line is going to be important at some point, but right now just getting a bunch of free motion practice in is what is really important. I've got that important UFO (unfinished object) waiting for me to get better at free motion.

Take care all.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

And the next project is...

And the next project is the class project from a class called Beyond Basic Machine Quilting which is taught by Ann Petersen.

There it is on my sewing machine. The two white things on either side of the seam line are pieces of shelf lining. Ann Petersen teaches to use those to move the quilt. Right now what I'm doing is called ditching, which means I have a walking foot on my machine, invisible threat in the needle, a thin thread in the bobbin, and I'm stitching in the ditch to stabilize the quilt. Right now it is held together with spray baste, but every line of stitching I put in keeps the sandwich together a little bit better.

I sewed on all of the lines of the borders and still need to sew the edges of the last border down to the batting and backing. She is the only teacher who teaches this method, but it works. I've tried it on smaller projects before, and on one that is roughly the same size, and this method works so well I can't quite believe it.

The ironing board behind the sewing table is intended to give the quilt a place to go instead of falling off the table. If it falls off the table it will pull against the needle, and that would not be a good thing.

Once I sew down the outside edges of the quilt, I'll start practicing free motion sewing. The first things we do is sew three flowers that are on marked lines. It turns out I might have a problem with doing that because my machine won't sew without thread in the bobbin and in the needle. In the meantime I have marked the flowers on a practice piece. She suggests doing practice pieces before you work on the real quilt, so I can get at least that far.

This photo is a bit more of a close up of the sewing area. The photo was taken in the middle of a seam. 

Take care all.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finishing Ribbon Flowers

The project I finished last night finally has a name. I'm calling it Ribbon Flowers.

And there is us, up on the wall in my Sun Parlor on a very foggy day. I'm really pleased with it. This really was an UnFinished Object (UFO). I had worked on it and put it away unfinished because I just did not know what to do with it the way it was. And then I decided to do some ribbon embroidery and some embroidery with pearl cotton and it just came together. And I discovered I loved it.

It isn't the only UFO in my sewing room. I'll be taking a good look at what is there and decide if I'm going to finish one or more of them before I move forward with newer projects.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I've started working on my projects again.

I had cut fabric for a practice piece for a free motion quilting class before Joe died. I've just begun to put the borders on. That is my new ironing board and this was the first time I'd used it.

I bought the class months ago. It is one of several free motion classes I've purchased. Between the classes and several books and a couple of web pages, I've learned a lot. There was no way I could have done the class project back when I first bought the class, but now I can, so I'm beginning to put together the quilt top for that project.

I've made two much smaller projects from the Stupendous Stitches class on I'd mounted this piece of fabric on stiff fusible interfacing months ago before I did the two smaller projects. I decided to begin this one about a week or two ago. At this point I've got the couching done. Those are the thick lines, and I've done the machine embroidery stitches. I'm ready to start the hand stitches, I think. But maybe not quite yet, so it got put aside while I think about it.

In the meantime I've been doing hand embroidery on this piece. It got put away unfinished several months ago. I just did not know what to do next.

This isn't a class project, but I learned how to do the various parts of the project in several different classes.

The background is a sort of improvisational piecing from the free BOM class. The raw edge applique is from Art Quilts 101, and all the rest is from Stupendous Stitches.

Here is a detail of what I actually did decide to do. It has a bunch of French knots and lazy daisy stitches. And some ribbon embroidery too.

I've stopped again and the piece is up on the bulletin board along with the blue one. I'm pretty sure it is finished this time, but I need to back it, decide if I'm doing any quilting on it and if so do the quilting, and decide how I'm finishing up the edges.

I like the way it looks right now, so I might just declare it finished.

Or maybe not.

One of the email newsletters I get is starting a Mystery Quilt. And I am tempted. I've played with some improvisational quilting, but not much. And that is what this will be. Like I said, I'm tempted.

Take care all.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Almost a Week

It has been almost a week since I wrote. I'm doing a lot better. I've been taking care of my health issues. I've been seeing a chiropractor more than once a week since just after Joe died. I get a lot of back pain and it controls what I can and can't do. I still get into a lot of pain when I've been standing up too long, but too long is just a bit longer than it used to be, and moving is a lot easier than it was a month ago. I go down to one visit a week starting next week, and I start massage therapy on the same day. He hinted at some exercise therapy, but not quite yet.

I can tell I'm making progress when he works on me. Things that hurt too much to even try two weeks ago are only mildly uncomfortable today. And I had the strange experience on Wednesday of leaning on a counter and having the pain just go away when I was at a checkout at a store. I tried it again in a different store half an hour later and it happened again.

I've been working the grief books. There are several that I like, for different reasons. WIDOW TO WIDOW: THOUGHTFUL, PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR REBUILDING YOUR LIFE by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, MS is on my Kindle. It is an older book written in the 90s by a widow, who has been there. She was a family therapist before her husband died and it colors the book. It really is both thoughtful and practical and it really is about rebuilding your life. She talks about the early stages and the feelings, grief and anger you feel. But for every chapter about that, there is one about dealing with the financial issues, or about how you handle and when you handle, emptying the closet. And why you do it when you decide to do it, and what it means.

There was one point when she was discussing removing wedding rings. Because of allergies I haven't worn a ring, watch or earrings for 40 years, but she said something that just hit me. She said that there will come a point when you don't feel married anymore. I suddenly realized that because Joe was unable to react to my presence for a year or more that I'd gotten to that point months ago. I had stopped feeling married. And that was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances.

I read this book about a year ago the first time, and again in the last month. It was useful then and it was useful again, to some extent in different ways. I recommend WIDOW TO WIDOW.

SEVEN CHOICES by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD is another older book about widowhood. It is also a book that I read, and worked part way though some time in the last year. Like Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, Elizabeth Harper Neeld hates the entire idea of stages of grief. They both agree that you will feel all of the emotions of the classic stages, but both feel that you will feel some of those emotions at any point in the grief process. But Dr. Neeld does see grief as a road with specific points where you will have to work on certain things to continue to go forward. She understands you might be working on more than one of them at a time, but certain things tend to cluster.

This book talks about the practical stuff too, but not in as much detail as WIDOW TO WIDOW. The focus is more on how to take your emotional temperature and decide which tasks need to be done when. And then she goes into more detail about how to do the tasks that will result in your coming to a place of peace in your life.

I recommend SEVEN CHOICES too.

I've bought two new books this week. TOUGH TRANSITIONS is also by Elizabeth Harper Neeld, Phd. She wrote this book more recently and it is about "Navigating Your Way Through Difficult Times." Grief, yes, but also other kinds of transitions. She discovered that some of what she was writing about in SEVEN CHOICES was showing up in people where there hadn't been a death, but where they had other kinds of upheavals in their lives. Because I am at a particular place in the road in SEVEN CHOICES I chose not to read forward at this time. I've read the entire book in the past and knew roughly where I was back then. Now I've moved forward on that road a little bit leaving the more difficult parts of grief behind, but needing to begin rebuilding more completely. It occurred to me that I might find more information on how to do that here. I haven't gotten very far into the book yet, but I like what I'm seeing so far.

I also bought GRIEVING GOD'S WAY by Margaret Brownley. I've only "done" two days in the book but I've looked at other sections and read a few days from the middle at the book store. This is a Christian faith based book. The other three are secular books. But Margaret Brownley's vision of grief is not too different from that of the other two authors. This book is intended to be read two pages a day. There is a reading about what you are feeling in the Grieving Body, Soul, Heart and Spirit. It is intended to take 90 days. There is a bible verse, or two, a short essay, a second short related essay on two pages for each day. Again, I like what I'm seeing so far.

I can't totally recommend either of these new books because I haven't been involved in them enough yet. But I do like them.

Take care all. Maybe next time I'll talk about the two art quilt projects I've been working on during this week.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


I've been writing about anticipatory grief a lot, but today I'm going to write about what happens when you start turning the corner. It is all happening very fast if you count from when my Joe died. But not so fast if you count from when I began to grieve my loss of the Joe I knew.

I've been using two books pretty heavily. Both of them are rather old books. WIDOW TO WIDOW by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg, MS is on my Kindle. It was originally copyright in 1995. I have a paperback copy of SEVEN CHOICES BY Elizabeth Harper Neeld, PhD, original copyright 1990. Both were professional counselors or teachers. Both were widowed and are writing, in part, about their own personal experiences, and also about the experiences of other widows. Both are primarily about women who are widowed, although they touch on men as well.

Both belong to the generation of counselors who hated the whole idea of the official stages of grief, because that wasn't what they experienced and it wasn't what they were seeing in others either, but both also admit that you come to a point where you begin to walk into your new life. Dr. Neeld calls it The Turn. Ms. Ginsburg calls it Uncoupling.

I got two things out of WIDOW TO WIDOW in the last couple of days that I need to write about. One was that there is a point when you don't feel married any more. That happened to me after several months when there was no longer any real contact possible with Joe, while he was still alive. It was when I truly began to work on my grief and read my books and try to figure out what was going on. I began to tell people that I was, for all intents and purposes, a widow already. And with one exception, everyone understood what I was saying.

But one thing that kept happening was that I was in limbo. I'd make some steps towards the new life, and get pulled back into the old one, because although Joe was so sick he was not making contact with anyone including the aides who were feeding him and keeping him clean, he had not died yet. Now that limbo is over, and I'm free to take those next steps into a new life.

So here I am at the point where I'm going to be reading the Parts called From Widowhood to Selfhood in WIDOW TO WIDOW and The Turn in SEVEN CHOICES. These Parts are not the last ones in either book. But both are well into the journey beyond the end of a marriage.